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April 25, 2007

Microsoft and SAP still singing their Duet

Posted by David Hunter at 12:08 PM ET.

From this week’s SAPPHIRE conference comes the latest on Microsoft’s Duet partnership with SAP:

April 24, 2007 — SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) and Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT) today announced that they have deepened their relationship and extended their product road map for Duet™ software for Microsoft® Office and SAP, a solution that allows information workers to interact with select SAP business processes and data through Microsoft Office applications. The companies will jointly enhance Duet with additional business scenarios, platform capabilities and development tools. The upcoming version, Duet 2.0, is planned for the end of 2008 and Duet 3.0 is planned to be released soon after the next generation of SAP® Business Suite applications and Microsoft Office software, including Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server. This announcement from SAP and Microsoft underscores the companies’ continued investment in shaping the future of Duet to ensure that it benefits their joint customers.

Following are some new features customers can expect in Duet 2.0 and Duet 3.0:

• Enhanced and new business scenario support for sales and supply chain management, and other business scenarios — extended capabilities will allow sales professionals to manage sales leads and opportunities within SAP® Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) from Microsoft Office. Additionally, supply chain managers will have new capabilities for purchasing and legal contract management. There will also be support for selected governance, risk and compliance scenarios.

• Expansion of Duet to support unstructured processes, information and team collaboration through embracing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft’s business productivity platform. The combination of SAP Business Suite and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server streamline the way people do business by truly connecting people, process and information.

• Enhanced Duet tools and infrastructure interwoven with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, so customers and partners can customize existing scenarios and create new ones. New scenario templates and development tools allow organizations to adapt existing Duet scenarios and build new scenarios that meet their evolving business needs.

For more information on Duet, visit

Duet still rates as one of the sparse crop of “corporate alliances” that actually produced substantial product, but there are some sour notes in the harmony since Microsoft persists in competing with SAP’s core business with their Dynamics line which has its own Office connector. For now at least, the companies are papering over the cracks:

The Duet partnership had appeared somewhat strained last month when Microsoft unveiled plans to come out with Dynamics Client for Office and SharePoint, a new product to more tightly integrate its own rival Dynamics business applications with Office and its SharePoint Web portal. Microsoft, which has tended to focus more on small to midsize users, also promised to compete more aggressively in the enterprise applications space against both market leader SAP and number-two player Oracle Corp.

Microsoft executives positioned the Dynamics Client, due out in May, as “a superset” to what Microsoft and SAP currently offer with Duet. For instance, unlike Duet 1.0, the Dynamics Client will provide Microsoft’s customers and partners with access rights to information and processes managed by Dynamics so they can customize and build their own Office business applications.

During Tuesday’s press conference, SAP and Microsoft executives were keen to stress their ongoing commitment to Duet and limit their likely competitive clashes. The two vendors remain “good friends,” according to SAP CEO Henning Kagermann. “Every so often we’ll meet in the market and will act as fair competitors,” Apotheker added.

It will be interesting to see how well that works out.

Filed under Coopetition, Duet, Microsoft, Office, SAP

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